NewsHeadless body of miner found as Russian mercenaries accused

Headless body of miner found as Russian mercenaries accused

Russian African Corps
Russian African Corps
Images source: © X

5 July 2024 18:19

The authorities of the Central African Republic have discovered the headless body of a 19-year-old miner in the town of Koki, in the Ouham prefecture. The body had been burned. Russian mercenaries from the African Corps, successors of the Wagner Group, are suspected of the crime.

The young man was one of at least 20 miners who were killed in mid-June because they refused to attend a local mining community meeting called by the Russians in mid-June.

The meeting took place in a Catholic church located near Koro-Mpoko, in the western part of the country. In this region, the local population works in small mines extracting gold.

The Russian mercenaries who organised the meeting ordered everyone present to empty their pockets and put their bags aside. They announced that no one is allowed to mine, sell, or buy gold, and that anyone who tries to do so will be executed. They selected six people to act as intermediaries in acquiring gold and delivering it to the Russians. At the end of the meeting, the Russians confiscated everything the miners had with them - mobile phones, gold nuggets, tools, and cash. This information was reported by the Central African agency Corbeau News Centrafrique (CNC).

Despite the threat, some miners decided to ignore the warnings and continued gold extraction. Many of them were killed, including the 19-year-old man whose headless body was discovered. At least two miners were kidnapped by the Russians and imprisoned in Bossangoa, the prefecture's capital. The families of the kidnapped received a message that if they want to see their loved ones alive, they must pay a ransom of 1.5 million CFA francs (around £2,000) per person. The ransom was collected, and the released individuals described the tortures they endured in Russian captivity.

"Wagner's anti-terrorist operation in Bossembélé ended in failure. Arbitrary arrests, corruption, and violence highlight the incompetence of the mercenaries and increase citizen anxiety. Reforms are urgently needed to restore security," the report reads.

Russian mercenaries in Africa

The brutality of Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic began to escalate from the end of last year, particularly in the gold-rich areas of Ouham prefecture, bordering Chad. In October last year, the Russians carried out an attack on the areas near Koki, dropping grenades on miners from a helicopter. According to eyewitness accounts cited by CNA, twelve miners were killed during the five-day attacks. The Russians arrested and tortured dozens of local men and burned down many houses.

"Two miners captured by Wagner mercenaries in Koro-Mpoko. Local workers suffer from oppressive conditions and arbitrary arrests. Urgent action is needed to end this exploitation," the agency reports.

Since then, Russian mercenaries have been patrolling the vast, gold-rich areas of Ouham in military vehicles, preventing local residents from mining the mineral. They order them to leave these lands, claiming that they purchased them from the government and now own them.

According to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, an organisation that analyses and maps armed conflicts, Russian mercenaries have killed over 900 civilians in the Central African Republic since December 2020. This makes them the deadliest armed group operating in the country.

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